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Experience behind-the-scenes history in Prince William & Manassas

Experience a one-of-a kind history lesson as Prince William commemorates the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s passage of the Emancipation Proclamation with a special three-day event.

The story of President Lincoln’s quest for equality came to life on the big screen last year with the launch of Oscar-nominated “Lincoln.” Now, experience it for yourself as Prince William hosts a one-of-a-kind event to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s infamous executive order.

“Lest We Forget: A Conference on Enslavement and Emancipation” will take place Feb. 21-23 at Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge, VA. This free, inaugural event hosted by Prince William’s Historic Preservation Division will explore the cultural and historical legacies of the antebellum period through dramatic plays, keynote addresses, forums and roundtable discussions.

“This conference sheds light on a major turning point in America’s past,” Discover Prince William & Manassas Executive Director Ann Marie Maher said. “We are fortunate to have so many unique sites and resources that tell the story of our rich African American heritage right here in Prince William and Manassas.”

Some of the planned sessions include the secession and the Civil War in Virginia, African American cemeteries and the Underground Railroad.  Dramatic plays will chronicle the lives of Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman and guest speakers from several noted institutions including the Maryland and Virginia historical societies, George Mason and George Washington universities and the National Park Service will make presentations.

The conference will conclude with two, day-long bus tours, for a fee, to significant African American sites in Prince William/Manassas and Washington, D.C. To register for the conference, visit manassasbullrun.com.

Besides the conference, several historical sites are hosting additional events in February to mark African American History Month. Some of the events include:

The Enslaved at Ben Lomond Feb. 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Explore one of the only public slave quarters in Northern Virginia, participate in hands-on demonstrations and learn about the lives of the slaves who worked at this plantation prior to the Civil War.

Lucasville School open house Saturdays and Sundays in February from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.:  This one-room school was built solely for African American children in 1885. The interactive site allows visitors to write on chalkboards and read the books used more than 100 years ago.

Basement to attic tours of Liberia Plantation Feb. 16 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.: Get a rare glimpse inside what was once the largest working plantation in Prince William, with more than 90 slaves producing grains and vegetables.

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